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The Ten Sefirot Essay

2143 words - 9 pages

The Sefirot of the Kabbalah The Ten Sefirot The sefirot was first found in the Sefer Yesirah (Book of Creation). It contains ten symbols that express many different things. Most generally they represent up, down, east, west, north, south, beginning and end, and good and evil (Dan, 8). Gershom Scholem defines the sefirot as "the potencies and modes of action of the living God (100)." The sefirot is also a symbol of Adam Kadmon, the primordial man, and the entire structure can be seen as a human body.**** Another way of looking at the structure is as if it were a tree. According to Joseph Wallman, the number ten "is probably derived from the fact that the Kabalists, being mystics, had seen in that number a hidden perfection…(and) are perfect because they originate God (128)." It is important to note that the ten sefirot are equally important and part of a unified being.Not only are there ten sefirot; the structure of the sefirot can also be divided into three different groups. The first group consists of the first three sefirot and involves the intellectual world. The second group consists of the next three sefirot and involves the moral world, while the third group contains the next four and involves the material world (Wallman, 128).The first sefirah (Keter) is known as nothingness. In other words this means that God is a "undifferentiated being, neither this not that, no-thingness (Matt, 8)." It is also known as the crown on the head of Adam. Out of this nothingness the second sefirah (Hokhmah) can be seen which represents wisdom and the third (Binah) represents understanding. The second is considered to be "the world seed, the supreme formative and male-paternal potency (Scholem, 103)." The third sefirah is seen as the "Divine Mother…she conceives the seven lower sefirot (Matt, 8)." These three sefirah make up the head of the divine body. It is important to note that there is anon-sefirah known as the abyss and "is crucial in descending or ascending the Tree that is beginning to come into being (Halevi, 30)." Binah first gives birth to Hesed, which represents love and then Gevurah, which represents power and judgment. Love and Power are viewed as the left and right arm of God. According to Matt these are "two poles of the divine personality: free-flowing love and strict judgment, grace and limitation. For the world to function properly, both are essential (8)." This balance is what makes the central sefirah (Tiferet), which represents beauty and is known as the trunk of the sefirot body. Tiferet is also called the Sun, Kind and Holy One.Tiferet forms the next two sefirah (Nezah and Hod), which represent the legs of the body. Nezah is known as eternity, perpetuity and victory and Hod is known as reverberation and glory. According to Halevi, "Nezah on the column of force cycles power into the complex while Hod reverberates the impulse throughout the tree (31)." The ninth sefirah (Yesod) represents the "procreative life force of the...

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